New Image of Blue Diamond Cluster Is a Cosmic Showpiece
Sky-watchers can catch their own glimpse of Messier 47, a group of hot, blue baby stars.
Astronomers are getting an early holiday treat: a stunning new portrait of a well-known cluster of hot blue and red stellar jewels known as Messier 47.
The spectacular image of the sparkling cluster—visible also to sky-watchers—was taken using a wide-field camera attached to a 2.2-meter telescope at La Silla Observatory in Chile. Located some 1,600 light-years from Earth, M47 is home to only about 50 stars. That's a surprisingly low number for an open cluster, a kind of grouping that usually contains hundreds or thousands of stars of roughly the same age.
One look at the new image shows that this stellar nursery, which is about 12 light-years across, is dominated by massive blue stars. These hot giants are estimated to